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  1. Doglioni, C. ; Kim, D. ; Stewart, G.A. ; Silvestris, L. ; Jackson, P. ; Kamleh, W. (Ed.)
    The DESGW group seeks to identify electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational wave events seen by the LIGO-VIRGO network, such as those expected from binary neutron star mergers or neutron star-black hole mergers. DESGW was active throughout the first two LIGO observing seasons, following up several binary black hole mergers and the first binary neutron star merger, GW170817. This work describes the modifications to the observing strategy generation and image processing pipeline between the second (ending in August 2017) and third (beginning in April 2019) LIGO observing seasons. The modifications include a more robust observing strategy generator, further parallelization of the imagemore »reduction software and difference imaging processing pipeline, data transfer streamlining, and a web page listing identified counterpart candidates that updates in real time. Taken together, the additional parallelization steps enable the identification of potential electromagnetic counterparts within fully calibrated search images in less than one hour, compared to the 3-5 hours it would typically take during the first two seasons. These performance improvements are critical to the entire EM follow-up community, as rapid identification (or rejection) of candidates enables detailed and rapid spectroscopic follow-up by multiple instruments, leading to more information about the environment immediately following such gravitational wave events.« less
  2. Abstract We present optical follow-up imaging obtained with the Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope, Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network, Nickel Telescope, Swope Telescope, and Thacher Telescope of the LIGO/Virgo gravitational wave (GW) signal from the neutron star–black hole (NSBH) merger GW190814. We searched the GW190814 localization region (19 deg 2 for the 90th percentile best localization), covering a total of 51 deg 2 and 94.6% of the two-dimensional localization region. Analyzing the properties of 189 transients that we consider as candidate counterparts to the NSBH merger, including their localizations, discovery times from merger, optical spectra, likely host galaxy redshifts, andmore »photometric evolution, we conclude that none of these objects are likely to be associated with GW190814. Based on this finding, we consider the likely optical properties of an electromagnetic counterpart to GW190814, including possible kilonovae and short gamma-ray burst afterglows. Using the joint limits from our follow-up imaging, we conclude that a counterpart with an r -band decline rate of 0.68 mag day −1 , similar to the kilonova AT 2017gfo, could peak at an absolute magnitude of at most −17.8 mag (50% confidence). Our data are not constraining for “red” kilonovae and rule out “blue” kilonovae with M > 0.5 M ⊙ (30% confidence). We strongly rule out all known types of short gamma-ray burst afterglows with viewing angles <17° assuming an initial jet opening angle of ∼5.°2 and explosion energies and circumburst densities similar to afterglows explored in the literature. Finally, we explore the possibility that GW190814 merged in the disk of an active galactic nucleus, of which we find four in the localization region, but we do not find any candidate counterparts among these sources.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  3. ABSTRACT Measurements of large-scale structure are interpreted using theoretical predictions for the matter distribution, including potential impacts of baryonic physics. We constrain the feedback strength of baryons jointly with cosmology using weak lensing and galaxy clustering observables (3 × 2pt) of Dark Energy Survey (DES) Year 1 data in combination with external information from baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO) and Planck cosmic microwave background polarization. Our baryon modelling is informed by a set of hydrodynamical simulations that span a variety of baryon scenarios; we span this space via a Principal Component (PC) analysis of the summary statistics extracted from these simulations. We showmore »that at the level of DES Y1 constraining power, one PC is sufficient to describe the variation of baryonic effects in the observables, and the first PC amplitude (Q1) generally reflects the strength of baryon feedback. With the upper limit of Q1 prior being bound by the Illustris feedback scenarios, we reach $\sim 20{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ improvement in the constraint of $S_8=\sigma _8(\Omega _{\rm m}/0.3)^{0.5}=0.788^{+0.018}_{-0.021}$ compared to the original DES 3 × 2pt analysis. This gain is driven by the inclusion of small-scale cosmic shear information down to 2.5 arcmin, which was excluded in previous DES analyses that did not model baryonic physics. We obtain $S_8=0.781^{+0.014}_{-0.015}$ for the combined DES Y1+Planck EE+BAO analysis with a non-informative Q1 prior. In terms of the baryon constraints, we measure $Q_1=1.14^{+2.20}_{-2.80}$ for DES Y1 only and $Q_1=1.42^{+1.63}_{-1.48}$ for DESY1+Planck EE+BAO, allowing us to exclude one of the most extreme AGN feedback hydrodynamical scenario at more than 2σ.« less
  4. Abstract Binary supermassive black holes (BSBHs) are expected to be a generic byproduct from hierarchical galaxy formation. The final coalescence of BSBHs is thought to be the loudest gravitational wave (GW) siren, yet no confirmed BSBH is known in the GW-dominated regime. While periodic quasars have been proposed as BSBH candidates, the physical origin of the periodicity has been largely uncertain. Here we report discovery of a periodicity (P=1607±7 days) at 99.95% significance (with a global p-value of ∼10−3 accounting for the look elsewhere effect) in the optical light curves of a redshift 1.53 quasar, SDSS J025214.67−002813.7. Combining archival Sloan Digital Skymore »Survey data with new, sensitive imaging from the Dark Energy Survey, the total ∼20-yr time baseline spans ∼4.6 cycles of the observed 4.4-yr (restframe 1.7-yr) periodicity. The light curves are best fit by a bursty model predicted by hydrodynamic simulations of circumbinary accretion disks. The periodicity is likely caused by accretion rate modulation by a milli-parsec BSBH emitting GWs, dynamically coupled to the circumbinary accretion disk. A bursty hydrodynamic variability model is statistically preferred over a smooth, sinusoidal model expected from relativistic Doppler boost, a kinematic effect proposed for PG1302−102. Furthermore, the frequency dependence of the variability amplitudes disfavors Doppler boost, lending independent support to the circumbinary accretion variability hypothesis. Given our detection rate of one BSBH candidate from circumbinary accretion variability out of 625 quasars, it suggests that future large, sensitive synoptic surveys such as the Vera C. Rubin Observatory Legacy Survey of Space and Time may be able to detect hundreds to thousands of candidate BSBHs from circumbinary accretion with direct implications for Laser Interferometer Space Antenna.« less
  5. ABSTRACT We present new Gemini/GMOS optical spectroscopy of 16 extreme variability quasars (EVQs) that dimmed by more than 1.5 mag in the g band between the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and the Dark Energy Survey epochs (separated by a few years in the quasar rest frame). These EVQs are selected from quasars in the SDSS Stripe 82 region, covering a redshift range of 0.5 < z < 2.1. Nearly half of these EVQs brightened significantly (by more than 0.5 mag in the g band) in a few years after reaching their previous faintest state, and some EVQs showed rapidmore »(non-blazar) variations of greater than 1–2 mag on time-scales of only months. To increase sample statistics, we use a supplemental sample of 33 EVQs with multi-epoch spectra from SDSS that cover the broad Mg ii λ2798 line. Leveraging on the large dynamic range in continuum variability between the multi-epoch spectra, we explore the associated variations in the broad Mg ii line, whose variability properties have not been well studied before. The broad Mg ii flux varies in the same direction as the continuum flux, albeit with a smaller amplitude, which indicates at least some portion of Mg ii is reverberating to continuum changes. However, the full width at half-maximum (FWHM) of Mg ii does not vary accordingly as continuum changes for most objects in the sample, in contrast to the case of the broad Balmer lines. Using the width of broad Mg ii to estimate the black hole mass with single epoch spectra therefore introduces a luminosity-dependent bias.« less